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Mr Thodi, welcome aboard the spy world

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Before I make a roundup up of the Year 2016, let me first congratulate Mr Elvis Thodi on his appointment as the chief state spy.

To be identified by the state president among the 17 million Malawians is no mean achievement at all. This means President Peter Mutharika (APM) saw something unique in Thodi.

I remember how former president Joyce Banda (JB) embarrassed Thodi before she fired him. She called for a meeting of some representatives of the Immigration Department where Thodi was chief immigration officer and allowed junior staff to throw stones at their boss.

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They made several allegations and before she would verify or confirm them, JB fired Thodi. The main reason for the firing was simply that he was from the Southern region, specifically from Mulanje (yours truly knows his home); therefore, he was associated with the then opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its leadership with Mutharika, now president, at the helm.

Well this is history and Thodi has moved on with life, so too has JB wherever she is, whatever she is doing.

Now Thodi should know that his responsibility is not to spy on Lazarus Chakwera or political opponents of Mutharika and the Democratic Progressive Party, no; that is what old state spies did.

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The nation has moved on greatly. The opposition is no longer the enemy of the state but they are partners. There cannot be a government without the opposition. This is why the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament is recognised by the government and the Leader of Opposition, currently Chakwera (I do not know why he is addressed as professor by his followers), draws his salary and other hefty perks from the government.

His job is to prevent these white-collar thefts. National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) officers are not there to get allowances and implicate Chakwera and other opposition leaders on silly matters.

Malawi is a democracy and it is stupid to spy on democratically elected leaders.

So too is senseless for the officers to pocket allowances and follow APM en masse wherever the President goes on his official duties.

The officers should be able to prevent crime. They were supposed to prevent the K30 billion Cashgate at Capital Hill during the reign of JB. They were supposed to prevent the K236 billion Cashgate during the reign of Bingu wa Mutharika and JB.

They are supposed to tell Malawians where Bingu, the former president, allegedly stashed K61 billion in foreign accounts.

NIB officers are supposed to tip the police where crime is expected to take place, where criminals are hiding. This is so because since the abolishment of Special Branch in the police after the multiparty democracy, the law enforcers are somehow lacking in their criminal investigations.

Therefore, Chakwera, Uladi Mussa and other opposition leaders are not enemies of the state. Whatever they do, whatever they say, they are fulfilling their mandate as legitimate opposition leaders.

So I would advise Thodi not to fall into the prey of practising old, archaic and imperial spying tactics.

This is not the era to burn the whole Malawi Electoral Commission warehouse in order to ensure a ruling party parliamentary candidate wins a court ruling on parliamentary election result; this is archaic, silly and undemocratic.

NIB can help the police with investigations to find out who killed Issah Njaunju, the man who was third in command at the graft-busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

NIB can as well help the police to find out who petrol-bombed the vehicle of a prominent and fearless opposition figure Jessie Kabwila of the Malawi Congress Party instead of implicating her and others in a senseless treason case based on senseless WhatsApp chats.

Well, let me now turn to the Year 2016. What indeed a horrible year it was in all aspects of life and most Malawians would have been happy if it skipped from the calendar. The inflation was record high as the government battled but failed to bring it down and it remains high as we close the year, at 19.9 percent. The kwacha has plummeted than ever before, bank interest rates were record high, all these pushed the cost of living for ordinary Malawians extraordinarily high.

As opposition leaders and civil society leaders have said it all, this was the worst year on the calendar since Malawi was created.

This was the year Malawians lived as if they did not have the government, with Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and Mutharika giving broken and contradicting promises on when the economy would improve.

This was the year people with albinism were hunted like animals, killed like chickens and fled their homes like refugees running away from war as the government was in deep sleep.

When APM woke up from his slumber, after two years, 18 people with albinism had been killed, 300 of them sustained injuries and thousands were affected in that they could not go to school, they could not go to work or in short, they failed to live a normal life.

Why it took two years for the government to act, no one knows.

2016 is the year we witnessed a cat-and-mouse relationship between the President and the media, with APM declaring he had stopped reading Malawi newspapers because they are allegedly half-baked and the media, on the other hand, declared they would no longer cover Mutharika.

When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

This is the year we saw the President, Chakwera and the Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya (not so sure about Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda) buying expensive fuel guzzling vehicles as 6.7 million were starving to death.

This is the year when we saw parliamentarians, without shame, asking for increment in their salaries, allowances and other perks despite the collapsing economy, thanks this was rejected.

This was the year when public delivery service was heavily compromised, the worst hit were the health and education sectors which literally collapsed.

Corruption was record high and Malawians kept on asking whether Lucas Kondowe, the head of the graft-busting body really existed at the ACB offices or was in some blue offices elsewhere.

Happy New Year to you all Smoke and Thunder readers!

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